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Francis Stevenson

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Francis Stevenson (1827-1902) of the London and North Western Railway

Died 1902 aged 74.[1]


1902 Obituary [2]

FRANCIS STEVENSON, late Chief Engineer of the London and North Western Railway Company, died literally in harness in the seventy-fifth year of his age, after a devoted service of nearly fifty-nine years; and although his illness first con6ned him to his residence on the 10th January, he was able to give advice and attend to matters of business within a few days of his death, which took place on the 1st February, 1902.

His career was a notable one. He was born of an old Scottish family in August, 1827, and after receiving an education at the Edinburgh Academy he was articled, at the early age of 13, as a pupil to the late Mr. R. B. Dockray, then one of the engineers of the London and Birmingham Railway Company, and in 1843 he became a member of the engineering staff. He was engaged on the construction of the Northampton and Peterborough line, which was opened in 1845, and was also Resident Engineer on the Coventry and Nuneaton Railway completed in 1850.

Subsequently he was transferred to Euston, and in 1855 became assistant to the late Mr. W. Baker, whom he succeeded as Chief Engineer, in charge of all new works and parliamentary business, in January, 1879.

His extensive knowledge and experience of the past history of the great undertaking of the London and North Western Railway induced the Directors in 1886 to place under his charge, in addition to his other duties, the maintenance of the whole of the railway, of course with efficient assistants.

It is obvious that for a man to attain such a position his ability and integrity must be of the highest order; but it is not only from this point of view that his memory will be cherished. Under a retiring nature there was a deep substratum of sound common-sense, discrimination and sympathy, combined with a genial temperament, and his patient calmness and resource in circumstances of emergency, which sometimes happen on a great railway, were remarkable.

Mr. Stevenson was an ardent lover of nature, with a profound veneration for ancient and historical buildings. When designing new work, whilst he kept in view the principles of reasonable economy, he was careful to so arrange his designs that they should leave undisturbed, as far as practicable, any prominent or pleasing feature in the vicinity.

His geological knowledge was also of much service in dealing with the many important schemes entrusted to his judgment. His loss at Euston Station especially is much felt by the Directors and by his brother chief officers, with whom h0 came into daily contact.

His staff also miss a firm friend and a chief who was at all times considerate, encouraging and just, and whom it was their constant pride to serve. He was well known in the vicinity of Westminster and in the precincts of the Committee Rooms of the Houses of Parliament, where he frequently met old acquaintances, to whom, in the interval of waiting for committees, he would relate, with vivacity and humour, the many experiences of his life. One of his favourite stories was to relate how the late George Stephenson at one time was his assistant; and having made this statement, it afforded him amusement to observe the questioning look of his hearer. The story is that once at Coventry, when taking some measurements, George Stephenson held the ring at the end of the tape and he the box end, thus securing the measurement at his end of the tape, whilst George Stephenson was only assisting him to obtain it.

Mr. Stevenson was elected a Member of the Institution on the 5th February, 1867. Although his busy life prevented him taking an active part in the proceedings of the Institution, he held it in high appreciation, and impressed upon the younger members of his staff especially the desirability of joining its ranks.



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